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Crape Myrtles Drape the Summer Landscape

Among the cast of characters in a midsummer day’s landscape, the perennial show-stopper remains the crape myrtle. This bold, brash beauty basks in the hot sun like a Hollywood star under stage lights.

“Gardening is our passion,” say Charles and Carol Davis of Waxahachie. The resplendently rich red varietal shown here is among many that transform their yard into a world of color.And what a stage presence!

Costumed in a rich palette of colors—red, pink, white, lavender, and purple —crapes bloom profusely under conditions scripted perfectly for them in Texas: hot, dry, and sunny. They colorfully upstage their garden-variety understudies for more than 100 days, from late spring well into fall.

Crape myrtles grow statewide, but several cities promote the showy shrub and host events to celebrate it. (Listed sites are wheelchair accessible.)

Waxahachie hosts the 4th annual Crape Myrtle Festival, Parade & Driving Trail July 3-4, 2001. Events on July 3 include a free fireworks show and concert by the Dallas Wind Symphony at dusk (approximately 8 p.m.) at Lumpkins Stadium. (From downtown, take N. Dallas Hwy./US 77 Business to Waxahachie High School, and turn east on Indian Dr.) Events on July 4 include a 10 a.m. parade on W. Main St. and an arts and crafts fair with food and entertainment from 10-6 at Getzendaner Park (both free). For details and a driving trail map, write to the Waxahachie Convention & Visitors Bureau, 102 YMCA Dr., Box 187, Waxahachie 75168; 972/937-2390; Or stop by the Ellis Co. Museum Visitors Center, on the town square, open Tue-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-4 (201 S. College; 972/937-0681).

Paris holds its annual Crape Myrtle Queen Coronation and concert by the Paris Municipal Band on July 20, 2001, in Bywaters Park (300 block of S. Main St.). The Paris Municipal Band also performs among Bywaters Park's crapes on June 15, 22, and 29, and July 13. On July 3, it performs during fireworks in Noyse Stadium (1100 block of 24th St. S.E.). All events are free and begin at 8:30 p.m.

Crape myrtles are also on view at the downtown plaza (US 82 at US 271 Bus.) and on the grounds of the Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site (812 S. Church St.; 903/785-5716). For other suggested viewing sites, write to the Lamar Co. Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Clarksville St., Paris 75460; 800/PARIS-TX or 903/784-2501;

McKinney has planted the first 6 of a planned 20 miles of crape myrtles. Take US 75 to US 380, and go west to see one mile of color. Take Texas 5 south of downtown, and go west on Eldorado Pkwy. all the way to Orchid Dr. to view 5 miles of crapes. The program is coordinated by the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney Foundation, Box 2909, McKinney 75070; 972/529-6708;

Crape-lovers in McKinney have also formed the new Crape Myrtle Society of America, which holds its first meeting at 7 p.m. on June 28, 2001, at the Pavilion at Texas A&M Research and Extension Center at Dallas, 17360 Coit Rd. (1/2-mile north of Campbell Rd.). Nationally known speakers will cover crape myrtle topics for growers, researchers, and home gardeners. Call the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney Foundation at 972/529-6708.

In Bryan-College Station, look for crape myrtles along FM 2818 (Barbara's Byway); across from Texas A&M Univ. on Texas 6 Bus. (Texas Ave.); at Richard Carter Park (1800 Brazoswood St.); and at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum (1000 George Bush Dr. West; 969/260-9552, ext. 224).

Write to Brazos Beautiful at 1733 Briarcrest Dr., #202, Bryan 77802; 979/776-6227.

The TAMU Horticultural Gardens (Texas A&M Univ., College Station 77843-2134; 979/845-3658; planted 30 varieties of crape myrtles this spring along a half-mile trail. To see them, take University Dr., go north on College St., take the first right turn (Hensel Dr.), and look for the gardens' entrance on the left. Hours: Daily dawn to dusk; guided tours on Tue. and Fri. by prior arrangement.

In Burleson, look for crape color along I-35W north and south of town, as well as at Warren Park (200 SW Johnson Ave.), Chisemhall Park (500 Chisemhall Ln.), the public library (248 SW Johnson Ave.), the police station (225 W. Renfro St.), and at schools and churches. Write to the Burleson Chamber of Commerce, 1044 SW Wilshire Blvd., Burleson 76028; 817/295-6121.

In Abilene, crape myrtles grow at the entrance to Rose Park (S. 7th St. at Barrow St.) and at railroad crossings along S. First St. and N. First St. (Note: S. First and N. First are two different streets.) Write to Keep Abilene Beautiful, Box 60, Abilene 79604; 915/734-3301.

From the July 2001 issue.

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